Best management practices to attain zero effluent discharge in South African industries
Wilson, Christiaan Georg Frederick
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Wastewater treatment is traditionally considered a separate part of an industrial activity, hardly connected to the production units themselves. It is nowadays essential to ensure that the quality of water is not degraded and that water that has been polluted is purified to acceptable levels, especially in a country with scarce water resources such as South Africa. Where water quality is concerned, Zero Effluent Discharge (ZED) is the ultimate goal, in order to avoid any releases of contaminants to the water environment. The push towards ZED in South Africa is also promoted further by the South African Government’s plan to reduce freshwater usage and the pollution of water sources due to the water scarcity in a semi-arid South Africa. Future legislation will see a marked increase in the cost of freshwater usage and/or a possible limitation of the quantity of freshwater available. There is a need in the South African Industry for a framework of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in order to provide interested stakeholders, which include not only industry, but also academia, environmental interest groups and members of the public, with a procedure to meet the ZED statutory requirements. This dissertation explores the regulatory requirements and current environmental management practices implemented. A framework of BMPs to successfully attain ZED status in South African industries is developed from the literature study and the researcher’s own experience. The BMP framework embodies practices for one integrated strategy within three dimensions. The three dimensions of the BMP framework were selected to differentiate between BMPs for management (Governance BMPs), the project management team responsible for ZED projects (Project Management BMPs) and the implementation of preventative and operational measures to obtain and sustain ZED compliance for South African industries. The BMP framework was validated against the practices applied by Mittal Steel. The Mittal Steel plant in Vanderbijlpark implemented various projects, reduced the intake of water and eliminated the discharge of effluent and by doing this successfully realised their ZED status. The BMP framework will enable South African industries to develop their own BMPs Manual which should be specific to their operational and environmental requirements. The implementation of these BMPs should be tailored and used accordingly to demonstrate compliance to ZED requirements in South African industries.
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